Tillerson Speaks on Terrorism in the Middle East

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared himself “satisfied” with progress by a key Middle Eastern nation to cut terrorism funding, which recently triggered a diplomatic crisis that split America’s allies in the region.

Saudi Arabia led Arab states to cut ties with Qatar, which has long been suspected of providing secret support to terrorists. Saudi Arabia’s move was welcomed by President Trump, but Tillerson has pressed the kingdom to reverse course. He signed a counterterrorism agreement with the Qataris on a recent trip to the region and cited Qatar’s “very aggressive” implementation of the deal to undermine the case for Saudi Arabia’s tactics.

“I think we’re satisfied with the effort they’re putting forth,” Tillerson told reporters Friday while welcoming Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah to the State Department. “I hope the [Saudi-led bloc of] four countries will consider as a sign of good faith lifting this land blockade, which is really having the most, I think, negative effects on the Qatari people.”

The standoff is awkward for the United States, which has military bases in both countries despite suspecting both of giving aid and support to terrorists. Diplomatic fissure emerged shortly after Trump’s visit to the Middle East, as the president noted in celebratory comments. But it also threatened to undermine Washington’s efforts to rally the Arab allies against Iran.

 

Originally published by the Washington Examiner.